Schools struggle to provide adequate time and resources for pupils’ well-being

Financial pressures faced by schools are putting a strain on the provision of mental health services, say MPs.

A joint report conducted by the Education Select Committee and the Health Select Committee urges the next government to review the impact of squeezed school budgets on mental health services.

It also calls for a more structured approach to referrals from education providers to CAMHS and for mental health training to be included in initial teacher training.

While it welcomed the Government’s commitment to making PSHE a compulsory part of the curriculum, the report suggested the promotion of well-being cannot be confined to the provision of PSHE classes. The MPs also said achieving a balance between promoting academic attainment and well-being should not be “regarded as a zero-sum activity”.

SCHOOLS NorthEast launched a commission, Healthy MindED into the mental health of pupils in the region, which brings together school leaders and key stakeholders with the aim of developing a fresh approach that is adoptable across all schools. 

A full day conference where school leaders and other professionals will receive practical advice on how to improve pupil well-being and mental health in their schools will take place on the 8th of June at the Durham County Cricket Club. For more information and to book your place, please visit the Healthy MindED Conference website

Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, commented on the joint committee recommendations:

The report makes clear that real terms funding cuts are leading to an increasing number of schools cutting back on the in-school provision of mental health services, such as counsellors. With school budgets at breaking point, we welcome the report’s call for the government to review the effect of budget reductions. Schools should not be expected to plug the gaps in health services, but many do provide counselling and other services to help their pupils at the time they need it. Schools need additional funding if they are to continue to do this.

It is particularly pleasing that the report has not called for increased accountability measures. So often this is seen as a way to boost provision, but in reality this is a blunt tool that must be used sparingly. The report makes clear that the introduction of personal development and well-being criteria in the inspection framework already means Ofsted has the tools it needs.

Children and young people’s mental health – the role of education, the first joint report of the Education and Health Committees of 2016-17, was published earlier than previously scheduled due to the snap General Election.

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